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Issue No 36 January/February 2017

Interview with Chocolat author: Joanne Harris

Education Clubs And Classes What’s On Really useful information for parents of 0-12 year olds in Gloucestershire

Editor’s Letter Dear readers …and suddenly the kids are back at school! Where did the Christmas holiday go? If you, like me, are a busy working Mum then you may be interested in our interview with Joanne Harris, mother and best selling author of Chocolat. Harris was born into a bilingual family with a French mother and a British father and her success illustrates the importance of speaking two languages at home. We discuss the practicalities of raising children to be bilingual at home in a feature in this issue. We also take a look at the benefits of encouraging children to play a musical instrument, to learn computer coding and to enjoy the pleasures of gardening. And also have some helpful advice for those of you with younger children who are looking at selecting a nursery. I would like to wish you all a happy and peaceful 2017. Diane Clifford. Editor 01684 770566

Next issue March/April 2017 Booking Deadline 3 February

In this issue 2 News & Views

12 Mums In Business

4 Education

13 Fostering

5 Ed’s Reading Room

14 Gardening

10 Clubs And Classes

15 What’s On

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Book Today 01684 770566 Circulation: 19,000 copies of Families Gloucestershire are available through nurseries, pre-schools, schools, libraries, soft play centres, selected shops and other distribution points throughout the county. If you would like free copies for your organisation or if you would like to subscribe so you don’t miss an issue please contact us. Families Gloucestershire is part of Families Magazines Ltd a franchise company. All franchised magazines in the group are independently owned and operated under licence. Families® is a registered trademark of Families Magazines Ltd, Temple House, Regatta Place, Marlow Road, Bourne End, Bucks SL8 5TD. The contents of Families Gloucestershire are fully protected by copyright and none of the editorial or photographic matter may be reproduced in any form without prior consent of the publisher. We take every care preparing this magazine but the publishers and distributors cannot be held responsible for the claims of advertisers nor for the accuracy of the contents nor for any consequence.’ Print: The Manson Group, Reynolds House, 8 Porters Wood, Valley Road Industrial Estate, St Albans. AL3 6PZ. Tel: 01727 848 440.


Families Gloucestershire

Should You Let Your Child Use A Tablet?

A newly-launched research project aims to discover the influence technology has on children's learning, social interactions and play, from birth to 47 months - and parents are invited to join in. Dr Elena Hoicka and PhD students from the University of Sheffield's Department of Psychology are looking to discover whether technology, such as tablets, is good for children's development, bad, or a bit of both. The survey asks questions about how long children use different types of technology - such as a tablet or a television the previous day. It also asks questions about how children prefer to learn, what children understand about other people, and whether and how children engage in pretend play. Parents of children with low activities levels, such as newborns, are also invited to participate, as the researchers are interested in how technology impacts children right from the beginning. All participants will then be invited to repeat the survey six months later, which allows researchers to determine whether or not technology has had an impact. At the end of the survey, parents will receive a summary of their child's learning style, social understanding, and play. To sign up or read more, go to:

Free Places At Private Schools Private schools will offer to provide up to 10,000 free school places a year to children from low-income families in England. The Independent Schools Council (ISC) says if the government pays £5,550 per place – the cost of a place in the state system – the remainder of the cost will be covered by the schools. The ISC was responding to pressure from the government to do more for their state school counterparts in return for charitable status, which allows for tax breaks. The scheme, which would test some children on academic ability, would be open to primary and secondary school-age children.

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January - February 2017

News & Views On Yer Bike For Brain Tumours Brain Tumour Research’s national spinnathon event is returning on Saturday 25 February. Could you lead a team? Gathering a group of friends, family or work colleagues is the most fun and easy way of taking part and raising sponsorship. Choose a location; either approach your local gym or become the team leader at your nearest Xercise4Less - the national sponsor for On Yer Bike. Take turns, or pedal for the entire duration and you will be helping to raise funds and awareness for brain tumours!

Big Garden Birdwatch

VOLUNTEER HELPLINE SUPPORT WORKERS NEEDED Could you support someone with warmth, empathy and without judgement? Are you a good listener who understands the importance of confidentiality? We are looking for women to provide emotional support on our telephone helpline, specialist training provided and travel expenses paid. Our annual training course starts early March and places are limited. Based in Gloucester, this opportunity would suit someone looking for a rewarding volunteering opportunity to fit around their family or someone in full time work.

For more information please contact Julia Davey, Volunteer Co-ordinator. Email: Telephone: 01452 305421

Call For Volunteers To Support Local Women A local charity is looking for committed, empathetic, nonjudgemental volunteers to support women and girls on the road to recovery after experiences of sexual violence. Gloucestershire Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre have doubled their helpline hours to cope with demand, but need more volunteers to support those that need it. Last year, GRASAC supported 865 callers aged 13 and older, and provided 824 face-to-face support sessions to survivors, friends and relatives.

You and your family can take part in this year's garden bird survey being organised by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). All you need to do is to count the different birds you spot in your garden over three days and record what you see. The RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch takes place between 28-30 January.

Children’s Cooking Skills Impaired By Ready Meals Supermarket ready meals are responsible for a startling decline in the cooking ability of our children, according to research. Our children's cookery skills have declined by a third in a generation thanks to these pre-packed meals, according to the study conducted for appliance manufacturer Samsung. While the same research also shows that fussy eaters are partly responsible for UK families binning up to a fifth of the food they buy each week – a huge waste. Samsung has teamed up with 2015 Masterchef finalist Emma Spitzer to produce a free digital book with easy recipes that all kids should be able to cook for themselves by the age of 11. The list includes: omelette, spaghetti bolognese and pancakes. In the foreword to the book Spitzer writes: “As a parent, I’m always aware of what my children are eating, making sure they have a balanced diet and trying to avoid wasting too much of my weekly shop.” Download the book here: easykidsrecipes/samsung-family-hub-easy-kids-recipes.pdf January - February 2017

The need for GRASAC’s services is as great today as when it opened in 1984. One in five adult women are sexually assaulted and up to 11% of children are sexually abused. Referral numbers increase each year and the waiting list for support is growing. GRASAC need women who have a few hours a month spare, interested in accredited, specialist training and keen to make a difference. Contact:

Free Reusable Nappies Every new-born baby in the Stroud district will be able to look ‘Stroud and Proud’ thanks to an initiative that will give their parents a free reusable nappy. Reusable, or ‘real’, nappies dramatically reduce waste, and can save parents over £1,000 before their child is potty-trained. The free nappies will be given out by community midwives until November, or until supplies run out. Parents will also be given information on how to apply for £30 cash back when buying more reusable nappies. The initiative is jointly funded by Stroud District Council and Gloucestershire County Council, who have supported the Gloucestershire Real Nappy Project since 2003. The Gloucestershire Real Nappy Project holds a ‘Nappuccino’ on the first Tuesday of every month at Beeches Green Health Centre, Stroud from 10am – 11.30am. This is an informal drop in. for mums and dads. More info visit:

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Education Preparing Your Child For Preschool Pre-school, whether at a nursery or within a daycare setting, offers kids experiences they may not get at home. It teaches them how to get along with others and prepares them for starting school. Here are some tips to help you prepare your child for pre-school. Teach your Child to Follow Directions Practice at home by giving simple instructions such as “Please help me pick up your toys and put them away.” Encourage your child to co-operate by offering an incentive, like a sticker or a visit to the playground. An incentive helps your child understand that following directions makes other fun activities possible. Help your Child Master Sharing and Turn Taking From ages 3 to 5, children tend to hoard coveted toys and objects. They are not really ready to grasp the concept of


Explore fearless learning today by calling 030 3003 4006 to book your free trial. /explorelearning @exploretutors

Families Gloucestershire

A Fearless Start To The Year Explore Learning explains the importance of being fearless. For us, a child’s educational journey goes beyond acing a quick spelling test or getting to the top of the class for a term. It is about building long-lasting confidence that takes them through their entire life, whether it is through developing a ‘have a go attitude’, or knowing it is alright to put their hand up without fear of a ‘silly’ question being mocked, or simply feeling excited about their next step. It is about nurturing a sense of pride, and a fearless attitude to learning, so that every child can become their version of amazing.

Our maths and English tutors are here to build confidence, and we’ve got independent research to prove the difference we make.


sharing yet. You can help by encouraging your little one to “take turns” with toys and praising him when he shares on his own. To help him develop the empathy that true sharing requires, state what he did and how it makes others feel, such as “Thank you for sharing. It makes your sister feel good.” Your child should be able to “own” special or new toys though, so keep them out of sight on play dates. Hone your Child’s Listening Skills Help your preschooler hone her listening skills by asking her to wait to speak until whoever is speaking has finished. When it’s her turn to speak, thank her for being patient. Explain that being a good listener shows respect for the speaker, whether it’s you, her sibling or her friends. If she continues to interrupt, keep reminding her that she’ll get the chance to talk. Becoming a good listener can take lots of practice!

Our incredible tutors are there to support every step of the way. Rather than a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’, they will ask: “are you sure?” or “can you convince me of your answer?”, allowing children to explore and push the boundaries of their thinking each day. To celebrate the new year and all of the potential it brings, we would like to offer you a little something to help your child along their fearless learner journey. From the 16 January until the 28 February, you will save £50 when you join any one of our maths and English tuition centres. To find out which tuition centre is closest to where you live and to book your free trial, check out our website:

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January - February 2017

Education Ed’s Reading Room

Hi book lovers everywhere. Happy New Year! I’m Ed and here is my New Year book selection of fantastic recently published books for you to enjoy. Have fun reading!


Dotty Detective: The Paw Print Puzzle by Clara Vulliamy (HarperCollins

£5.99) ED SAYS: ‘Dot, her best friend Beans and Dot’s dog McClusky are ready for their latest tricky case but their detective work must remain top secret. Strange noises at night are enough to convince them that something spooky is happening but, as all super sleuths know, they must get proof and for this they need a genius plan. It’s just as well the intrepid trio love solving puzzles.’

Marge in Charge by Isla Fisher

(Piccadilly Press £5.99) ED SAYS: ‘Jemima and Jake are not looking forward to meeting their new baby sitter. When they see a tiny lady with a woolly hat they are definitely not thrilled but the moment their parents leave Marge takes off her hat revealing multi-coloured hair – and a multi-coloured personality! They are enthralled when she tells them she is a duchess, she was brought up in a royal palace and has ten pets. Great fun ensues and the children can’t wait for the next time Marge is in charge!’

Buckinghamshire Gloucestershire CEM 11+ EXAM GROUP TUITION • Year 5 and Year 4 - small group courses Mock Exams (supported by 1 to 1 tuition) • Groups run by professional tutor and published author, Philip McMahon • Our own high quality resources for tuition and homework • Sunday available Saturdaycourses and Tuesday Courses • Proven results

CEM STYLE TEST PAPERS FOR BUCKS 11+ EXAM Order our new test papers in conjunction with Letts Letts, the expert in revision and 11+ Tutoring Academy, have teamed up to provide pupils with resources for CEM • Completely new and up to date content • CEM style in their format and question types • Designed for practice at home Order our new test papers at PRIVATE TUTORING COMPANY OF THE YEAR 2015 - FINALIST 01242 221271 Twitter @11plustutoring


The Royal Rabbits of London by Santa Montefiore and Simon Sebag Montefiore (Simon & Schuster £10.99)

ED SAYS: ‘Shylo the young rabbit dreams of adventures. He wishes that instead of being the smallest and quietest of his family he could be the cleverest and most courageous. When the opportunity arises for Shylo to go on a quest to enter the world of the royal rabbits of London and help them to defend the Queen, will he be able to summon up the courage he thinks he lacks? Can the smallest ever be the biggest in the field of heroics?

The Thornthwaite Betrayal by Gareth P Jones (Piccadilly Press £6.99) ED SAYS: ‘Peace reigns at last between the twins Lorelli and Ovid in the remains of the burnt-out Thornthwaite Manor, but for how long? When strange goings-on begin to happen including some near-fatalities they wonder who is behind such dreadful deeds. They are not trying to harm each other so they wonder who exactly is behind the Thornthwaite betrayal? There are a few suspects!’ Ed’s Reading Room is part of, a DTI awardwinning website. It was created by Maggie Humphreys, a teacher of more than 25 years, and Les Snowdon, who together are authors of several books on fitness walking and healthy eating. You can contact Maggie on 01753 730019 or by email at See Maggie’s latest ebooks at January - February 2017

Book Now For 11 Plus Tutoring Academy Parents wishing to help their children prepare for Gloucestershire’s 11+ examination are advised to register early for group courses for Year 5 beginning in September 2017. Courses are held in Charlton Kings, Cheltenham. They are run by a published author of very popular 11 Plus books who has many years experience of preparing hundreds of children for the 11 Plus. Free trials are available any week. There is an option to switch course day if you are unable to attend a particular day. The courses have an excellent record supported by testimonials and teach over 100 children weekly. The courses include periodic progress tests, the opportunity to do mock exams and also provide guidance and feedback to parents. Please contact Philip email: or call 07734469495

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Little Bilingual Brains Infants and young children have an impressive capacity for learning languages. They are curious, very eager to communicate and their brains are designed for fast learning. Bilingual families have an interesting opportunity of making the most of these early learning capacities in teaching their children two languages from birth. There are several interesting advantages to raising bilingual children. Dr Evelyne Mercure 1. Bilingualism does not cause language delays. Bilingual children usually learn two languages at the same pace as monolingual children are learning one. Bilinguals may sometimes appear to know less words than monolinguals, but this is usually because their vocabulary is divided between two languages. 2. Learning two languages encourages children to think about languages. Bilingualism attracts children’s attention to language itself, making children more aware of the sounds, words and regularities in languages. This gives them a head start in school when learning phonics or grammar rules. 3. Bilingualism might make your child better at multi-tasking or listening to someone speaking in a noisy environment. When speaking one of their languages, bilinguals must inhibit the impulse to use words in their other language. To achieve this task, they activate parts of their brain involved in cognitive control. This extra practice at controlling their own thoughts may lead to a ‘bilingual advantage’ in certain cognitive tasks.

4. Mastering two languages will give children a better understanding of their family’s cultural background. The most unique aspects of a culture always risk getting lost in translation. For this reason, being bilingual helps children become ‘bicultural’, making them more aware of cultural differences and more likely to take part in two cultures. Every family and every child is different. There are a million different ways of raising bilingual children and the most important is to find a way that feels right for your family. Here are a few tips that can help making these decisions. 1. Maximise face-to-face communication. From the first days of life, babies love making eye contact and hearing their loved ones speak, vocalise and sing. Face-to-face communication is the motor of language learning and early experience is key. 2. Have a plan. It is important to think about what ‘bilingualism’ means for your family. Would you like your child to have a basic understanding of another language? Are you hoping for your child to be fluent in two languages? Or read and write in two different languages? Make sure you provide plenty of experience for your child to achieve each of these goals. It might be a good idea to decide on a language to be used at home. One parent may decide to use one language when addressing their child, while the other parent will use a different language. 3. Keep it fun. Your child’s motivation to learn each of their languages will make a huge difference to their achievement. A child may find it unpleasant if they feel constantly tested and criticised when speaking. The main focus should be on what is being said and not how it is being said. 4- Find role models. One way of keeping their motivation up, may be to involve people who are not fluent in your child’s dominant language. This may encourage them to use a language they are less comfortable in. It will also show them that this language is spoken by people other than mum and/or dad. Children will also learn a lot from other children, especially older ones. Offering a bilingual environment is a life long richness a child will benefit from. They may not only learn two languages, but also a new way of thinking about cultural diversity. Make the most of their incredible language learning abilities! Evelyne Mercure studied Speech & Language Pathologies, Neuroscience and Psychology. She is an ESRC fellow at UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience.


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January - February 2017


Exploring the great outdoors: Rendcomb College children have great fun at Forest School

Stepping Outside To Learn Victoria Beevers, Head of Juniors at Rendcomb College talks about the benefits of children spending time with nature and the free Forest School events for preschoolers that are taking place this year. As the Head of Rendcomb College Junior School, it is great fun watching our children get their waterproofs on ready for Forest School! Every week, whatever the weather, our Nursery and Reception children spend time in the woods, playing and discovering. Our Forest School leaders relish the chance to consolidate the children’s learning and encouraging important qualities such as risk taking and team work.

insightful and adventurous experience! Certain to be popular events, please do book early to avoid disappointment. WINTER Forest School takes place on Friday, 13 January from 10.00 am to 12.00 noon. IT’S SPRINGTIME takes place on Friday, 24 March from 10.00 am to 12.00 noon. To book, please call 01285 832306, email or visit to register online.

So when choosing a Reception class for your child, I encourage families to consider some of the long-term gains of an infant education which involves not only the educational learning in the classroom and supportive, caring staff which most schools can provide, but also gives them the chance to learn to love outdoor learning! We are so lucky to have such a brilliant facility on our doorstep, so this year we have chosen to open up our fantastic Forest School for some very special free events for preschool children aged two and above. At our first event, ‘WINTER’ which takes place on Friday 13 January 2017, children can enjoy a host of outdoor activities and will be able to explore our beautiful woodland. Children will also have the chance to discover the wonders of the natural environment, meeting woodland animals and creatures great and small throughout the morning. At our second event, ‘IT’S SPRINGTIME’ which takes place on Friday, 24 March 2017, children will learn more about the changing of the seasons. In-keeping with Rendcomb College’s ethos of ‘adventure,’ children can also go on Easter egg hunts, mini-beast hunts and more, all under the guidance of our qualified Forest School instructors.

FREE EVENT! Friday 13 Jan 10am - 12 noon

In our award-winning Forest School


Friday 13 January, 10am to 12 noon For preschool children aged 2+ 01285 832306 •

Rendcomb College, Cirencester, Gloucestershire GL7 7HA

With deliciously warming hot chocolate and snacks also on offer in our forest, our visitors are sure to have an enjoyable, January - February 2017

Your adventure starts here

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How To Make Maths Fun Maths is one of the fundamental skills that all children need to acquire, and there are plenty of ways you can make maths fun through the use of games and maths activities at home. Numeracy targets are fundamental to the National Curriculum and to primary school testing and that can seem as intimidating to you as to your child. But there are some simple strategies you can put in place that can make maths fun for kids and reinforce how important those life skills are.

excellent apps for embedding times tables in young brains. For older children ensure that they know not just the multipliers but the divisors too, up to 12 x 12.

Try gamification In other words, get out some old fashioned board games. Children learn best when an activity is fun, and they're usually unaware that they're learning through playing games. Dominoes is an excellent game for practising basic maths concepts, as is Do your homework Snakes and Ladders. They'll be having too much fun to notice they're adding and subtracting and recognising basic number Before you can support your child's maths learning at home, patterns. For older children, Monopoly introduces more you'll need to find out about the way they learn maths at sophisticated numeracy skills and Scrabble is a brilliant way to school. Do some homework on modern maths methods like practise both numeracy and literacy. Board games are also number lines and gridding, and find out whether your child's school offers maths support classes for parents. If not, there are valuable for introducing strategy, logic and reasoning skills. some excellent resources available online like the family maths Make it more formal toolkit from national numeracy or the 'Maths for Mums and As your children's maths skills progress, you can begin to make Dads' books by Mike Askew and Rob Eastaway. their home learning more formalised. There are any number of Maths by stealth online maths resources available and your school may encourage at-home use of a programme like Mathletics to There are plenty of ways you can incorporate maths into challenge and reinforce skills learned in the classroom. Do everyday life, which is an excellent way of letting children know check before you sign up to a paid programme that it's how important numeracy skills are outside of the classroom. compatible with the National Curriculum. Many children also Next time you have a cake or a pizza, ask them to divide it into enjoy age-appropriate workbooks, with stickers for rewards. quarters or thirds. Baking is one of the very best ways of embedding the importance of weights and measures. They'll also Learn with and from your children need to keep an eye on the clock to know when their goodies As the family maths toolkit points out, maths is not a can or are ready to come out of the oven. Meanwhile, every time you cannot subject but something we can all improve. When your go to the shops, encourage them to add as they go and then children start to bring home maths homework, take the make their best estimate of the final bill. opportunity to learn about new maths concepts from them and Make tech and tables count show them real world examples of how to put those skills into practice - by checking your shopping or phone bill. Encourage There are numerous maths apps available for children of all them to contextualise a newly acquired skill by putting it into ages, from simple counting games to more advanced practice around the home. And always praise their effort rather calculations. Doodle Maths and Mr Thorne's Maths Universe than their talent to reinforce their hard work. should get even committed young mathphobes practising their To find out more about helping your child learn visit: numeracy on their tablets and smartphones. Percy Parker Sing Your Times Tables and Squeebles Times Tables are both 8

Families Gloucestershire

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January - February 2017


Get Coding Together Computers and technology are fast taking over the modern world, and becoming an integral part of our lives. While previous generations did not have access to this technology until they grew older, nowadays computer sciences are present in children's lives from a much younger age. What is coding? Coding can be difficult to understand, as there is no limit to how advanced and detailed it is. But coding is basically what makes the programmes in computer systems and technology that we use every day. It tells our computers and smartphones what to do; from setting a spin cycle on a washing machine to sending an email on your laptop. So why do our children need to learn to code? Teaching children coding is quickly becoming a vital part of their education, and is even now a part of the national curriculum. For children, learning at a young age will test them and encourage them to think differently in order to work around a problem. Coding is a great way for children to develop important problem-solving skills, in a way which interests and fulfils them. After learning the basics for yourself, you will quickly recognise the similarities between learning to code and learning another language. Technology is such a vital part of our lives now, and it will only continue to develop more as time goes on. So, computer skills are a fundamental part of a child's education in order for them to continue to understand the modern world and thrive in it. With more careers available in technology than ever before, computer sciences are becoming important for job opportunities.

This Is Your Child’s

11+ Year The New Year is a great time to start thinking about your child’s 11 plus future. By now, they’ve had time to settle into their new classes at school and January provides the perfect opportunity to set goals for the coming year. Children who start their 11 plus preparation now have plenty of time to identify and tackle any weak areas and steadily improve their skills. It is also a good time to look into mock exams so that children know what to expect when the big day finally arrives. In fact, KSOL’s experienced 11+ tutors recommend that children get as much practice as possible, as the exams will not only profile their ability but also help them to overcome emotional fears. Using over 10 years of experience, KSOL can help your child achieve 11+ success with personalised online 11+ tuition and live exam experiences. For more information about KSOL mock exams and special New Year Offers on online courses, visit www. or call 0121 733 6558.

How can you teach coding to your child? Any child that can use a It is also a good time to look into smartphone or tablet can learn some level of coding and programming. mock exams so that children know Here are a couple of ways to help your little ones: what to expect when the big day Daisy the Dinosaur app finally arrives. In fact, KSOL’s This free app is ideal for younger children and teaches them the very basics of coding experienced 11+ tutors recommend while making it feel like a fun and colourful game. They quickly pick up the rules and that children get as much practice as methods, while making Daisy the dinosaur dance around on the screen. possible, as the exams will not only Hopscotch profile their ability but also help them Created by the same people as Daisy the Dinosaur, this app is ideal for teaching to overcome emotional fears. yourself and your children the coding basics in a slightly more in depth way. This app has won many awards. It allows children to make and play on their own games, publishing them online for others to see as well. R This website was launched in 2013 with the aim to expand access to computer science developments. The creators want to increase the diversity of programmers, and encourage young girls and underrepresented minorities to become more involved in coding. This site is brilliant for learning at home and in the classroom. For more ideas visit: January - February 2017

Learn A

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Clubs and Classes

Encourage to play: learning a musical instrument is hugely beneficial to your child’s development

It’s Time For Some Fine Tuning

Many parents encourage their children to play a musical instrument and the younger they begin, the more they can benefit. This guide aims to assist parents unsure of why their children should begin and what skills are required.

they must be able to hold the instrument, be able to grasp simple music notation and have the attention span required.

Firstly, and most importantly, learning a musical instrument is hugely beneficial to your child’s development. Whether they wish to be the next Chopin or Joe Satriani, the art of music can only be positive for your son or daughter.

What skills are important? Notes in music range from A to G. As long as your children know this, forwards and backwards, they can start to read and learn music! Obviously, an idea of co-ordination is useful. Your child will need to have an idea whether they want to play lefthanded or right-handed. This will most often be the way that feels most natural to them, but as the adult it is important to know that left-handed equipment is often not as easy to find.

When should your child begin lessons? Although some parents start their children at three, most teachers would agree that seven is ideal for several reasons;

What is needed? Purchasing the instrument is the easiest way to ensure your child is going to progress as quickly as possible, however, this is

By Sally J Hall

Kid’s Camp is here this Easter 10 - 13 April 2017

Award winning music classes for babies & young children CHELTENHAM & GLOUCESTER T: 07768 457403 E:

Saturday classes now open!

Special offer! Anyone joining Rock n Roll mentioning Families Gloucestershire magazine gets membership for £1 (instead of the usual £17!)


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January - February 2017

Clubs and Classes not the cheapest option! It may be worth talking to local schools and clubs about hiring the equipment in the first instance, but if the student has the instrument at home, they will be far more likely to practise. You can buy music books including grade books, however, most music can now be found for free or at a small cost online.

The Wonderful World Of Music

How often should they practise? One lesson a week is ideal, so as not to over-burden the youngster. Practice really is up to the individual, but research would suggest if your child practices at least once more a week, they will improve far faster. How does learning music benefit a young person? Academic studies Learning a musical instrument is proven to help your child in school-related activities. If they are learning about beat, rhythm and rhyme, in essence, they are also learning how to divide, create fractions and recognise patterns. The art of studying music and lyrics will also help to improve a child’s short-term memory and, if continued, their long-term memory too. It is also widely believed that the scientific principles of strumming a guitar or playing a violin can aid the basic understanding of subjects such as physics. Cool, huh? Physicality Learning instruments such as the drums, percussion or even the double bass can help youngsters develop physically too. Co-ordination and motor skills benefit most specifically, yet in addition, a lot of instruments are high energy, helping your child enjoy and feel the creative flow of the activity, while letting off excess energy! Also, learning to cope with uncomfortable positions for short periods of time helps increase ambidexterity. Patience Your child will also learn the key components of patience and delayed gratification. Learning to play with others at different levels is one of the key elements of contemporary music and helps increase acceptance levels in the young. In addition, some tricky instruments like the violin or piano, have a steep learning curve, so it teaches young people adult traits at an earlier age, giving them an advantage as they move through into adulthood. Self-esteem Self-esteem will be boosted as your child is likely to meet new people, as well as master an art form. Thinking about cost A music lesson can vary quite considerably in price, ranging from £15 up to £40. This will depend on the quality of the teacher or location. Make sure you shop around and get the teacher that you want. In essence, you need to know what it is you want your child to gain from the experience and make sure the teacher you choose is the sort of individual your child can learn from and grow a special bond with. So hopefully it is clear to see the benefits of learning to play a music instrument. Whether an African drum or the simple recorder, the benefits of learning could be limitless. To find more information on music classes visit: January - February 2017

Did you know the ear is the first organ to develop fully in the womb – meaning babies can start to take comfort from the sound of their mother’s voice from just 11 weeks? Early exposure to singing, listening to and playing music can sharpen up a whole range of skills. In babies and infants, greater exposure to music increases cell changes in the area of the brain concerned with speech. And since music uses both sides of the brain, it boosts other areas too, such as movement, creativity, spatial reasoning, memory and emotional intelligence. Monkey Music is the UK’s leading pre-school music group with classes across Cheltenham and Gloucester. The littlest ‘Monkeys’ start their musical journey with ‘Rock n Roll’ classes from the age of 3 months. It’s all about sensory experience; gentle songs, fascinating sounds and musical activities all introduced and enjoyed. New Rock n Roll classes have just launched in Bishops Cleeve and Churchdown, adding to those already wellestablished in Up Hatherley, Leckhampton and at The Playfarm in Cheltenham. Of course little Monkeys can join the fun at any age – with classes for children up to the age of 4. They were brought to Cheltenham and Gloucester by Sian Ferris, a local mum-ofthree, back in 2002. “Music and rhythm can engage children at an incredibly early age and there’s a great deal of research to show how important music can be in the development of young minds,” she says. “We introduce music to very young children in a way they can easily understand and enjoy. Great fun for them – and for the grown-ups too!” To book your FREE TRIAL CLASS – call Sian on 07768 457403 or visit:

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Mums In Business

Joanne Harris Talks To Families To mark National Storytelling Week (30 January – 6 February), international best-selling author Joanne Harris spoke to Families about life as a writer, how storytelling has evolved through social media, and gives her advice for those with a passion for writing. The success of Chocolat kick-started your career as an author - was it an easy decision to retire from teaching? Writing is generally a job that doesn’t make a lot of money, and nearly all writers have another job. For my first three published books I was a teacher and if one of my books hadn’t been unexpectedly successful I would have stayed a teacher. When you reach a certain level of success it is very difficult to do the two things at once, so I gave up teaching. How did it feel when you found out that Chocolat was being made into a film? I did not believe it at first, because books get optioned all the time, but very rarely do they end up making films. I started to pay attention when they started filming, and when they invited me on set, when it was clear something was actually happening. By then it did not really have much to do with me, so I was able to enjoy it in a different way.

better. So start writing, and don’t worry too much about where you are heading. Also read a lot, because the more you read the more you realise how writing works and why it’s good and why it fails, and just keep improving all the time.

Do you ever meet people and think they would make a great character in a book? I am borrowing from people all the time. It’s part of being a writer, using the experiences you have with people and conversations; things you’ve noticed about them, and you filter them through this process. I don’t think I’ve ever actually put someone in a book, but I think we all borrow extensively from other people around us.

Have you faced any challenges when writing books, and what did you learn from them? It’s useful to keep an open mind. There is no way you can please everyone all the time. Learn to live with criticism even if you think it is unfair and still do what you are doing. If you are absolutely convinced that your book is a masterpiece, but people read it and think it’s rubbish, then there’s probably some truth in it. However, keep believing you can do it, and learn from mistakes, acknowledge them and move on.

How long does it take you to write a book? I’m usually working on more than one thing. Some have taken me 10 years to finish, some only one. Some I’ve started and then finished 5,10 or 15 years later. I tend to start things off and then quite often put them on the back burner for a bit, work on something else and then go back. Sometimes I just need to let it lie, do some research, or work out a plot.

Do you have any new books or projects that our readers can look out for? I’ve got an illustrated book of the Storytime stories coming out, hopefully next year, called Honeycomb. I’m also working on a sequel to The Gospel of Loki, which hopefully will come out the year after next. I’ve also got another illustrated project, which may or may not come out next year.

You’re very active on social media, do you think this new digital age we’re living has changed the way people tell stories? I think it’s had an impact on the whole of the book business in a lot of ways, some good, some bad. What it has done is given us more access to each other and provides a much more interactive side to telling stories. I tell my Storytime stories on Twitter, and you really feel as if you’re talking to people, because it’s a very conversational medium, which is its charm.

Favourite childhood book(s)/ author? Ray Bradbury - Something Wicked This Way Comes

It’s National Storytelling Week in January, what advice would you give to children or adults if they have a passion for writing? To be a professional writer you have to write, a lot, and understand that a lot of it will be bad but practice makes you 12

Joanne Harris: Picture courtesy of Kyte Photography

Families Gloucestershire

Favourite character you’ve created? The villain in Gentlemen and Players Favourite book/story you’ve written? The Gospel of Loki The best thing about being an author? Spending my life doing something I love, and getting it out to people who also love it. For more information on Joanne Harris and her work, go to

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January - February 2017


Do You Have Space In Your Family For More Children? At Gloucestershire County Council we are always looking for caring and secure homes for local children. There are many reasons why children come into foster care. Sometimes they just need a family to stay with short term, while their own families weather a crisis. Other children may not be able to return to their birth families and need foster carers to care for them until they are independent. We are particularly looking for families who can help brothers and sisters stay together or who would be interested in fostering older children and teenagers.

Birth children are always part of the process and often gain a great deal from the experience of fostering, as our case studies show. In order to foster, your own children would need to be over two years old and you would need a spare room or rooms for siblings. We welcome applications from all sections of the community, to reflect the differing needs of children in care. You can be single, married, co-habiting (for at least two years) or in a same-sex relationship. You will be paid weekly allowances, plus other fees and travel expenses. You’ll also receive support from a social worker and ongoing training to increase your skills and knowledge. To see if fostering is for you, call us for an informal chat on 01242 532654 or complete the fostering enquiry form on our website and we’ll call you: We will also be at Nature in Art on Saturday, 4 February from 10am to 2pm if you would like to chat to us about fostering and meet experienced foster carers.

Sharon and Stephen and their sons James, 15, and Alex, 11, foster for Gloucestershire County Council. Sharon said, “It works really well, having your own children and foster children. I always let James and Alex greet them at the door when they arrive and show them around the house. It’s much easier for a child to come into a home with other children. I grew up in Asia and saw the poverty. I wanted my boys to understand how lucky they are and that other people need help. It’s been a real education for them.

Share your family’s life

Alex has been brilliant with the ten year old who is currently with us. He talks to him and encourages him. Before he came to us he was always fighting and getting red cards at school but he recently came home with a gold star certificate for his work and for not fighting or being excluded.

Gloucestershire County Council needs foster carers for children of all ages, especially siblings and teenagers. If your children are over two years old and you

I’m so proud of my sons for the role they’ve played.

January - February 2017

If you’d like to find out more, contact the Fostering Recruitment Team or visit us at Nature in Art on Saturday, 4 February from 10am to 2pm

GCC_1765 11.16

The support we’ve received from Gloucestershire County Council has been fantastic. You don’t need to be on your own with fostering. You’ll receive support and training.”

have a spare room, we’d love to hear from you. In return you can expect excellent support, training and weekly allowances and fees.

01242 532654 Gloucestershire Fostering @FosteringGlos

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What’s On

Please check with the venue in case details have changed and also please note that with some venues, it is cheaper to pay in advance on-line.


MUSEUM IN THE PARK CORINIUM MUSEUM Stratford Park, Stratford Road, Stroud GL5 4AF Park Street, Cirencester, Gloucestershire GL7 2BX 01453 763394 01285 655611 14 Feb. Gargoyle Masks 11 – 19 Feb. Made in Stroud: Incredible Inventions Celebrate the 900th anniversary of Cirencester’s Abbey Trail. The world’s first lawnmower, the adjustable by creating masks inspired by stone gargoyles found in spanner, plastic made from milk, ground-breaking the ruins of the Abbey. 10.00 – 11.00am. animations and so much more... Tracy Spiers has 15 Feb. Mini Mosaics designed a new Museum Trail which invites you to Learn the Roman art of mosaic making by creating discover just some of the incredible inventions which your own mosaic tile to take home. All materials and began here, in Stroud! Free. instruction provided. 10.30 – 12.00 noon. 14 Feb. Family Drop In Workshop: Valentine’s Day 16 Feb. Hands On History Cards. Come along to the Museum where we will be Step back in time with our collections team who will sharing love and affection with a unique, handmade be giving you the opportunity to handle some of the card! Cost £2.00 interesting objects from our reserve collection which 15 Feb. Family Drop In Workshop: Make a Mini are all from the home of yesteryear. 11.00 – 12.30pm. Museum. Imagine your very own museum! Be inspired 17 Feb. Family Film Friday by real Museum objects or invent a new collection of Each school holiday we will be selecting a film for intriguing finds and mysterious treasures. Cost £2.00. families to enjoy. Film titles are released approximately 4-6 weeks in advance. 11.00am. . NEWARK PARK Ozleworth, Wotton-under-Edge, GL12 7PZ 01453 842644 11 – 19 Feb. February Family trail Explore quirky Newark House as it reawakens after winter. Enjoy carpets of beautiful snowdrops, fresh air, stunning wintery views over the Cotswold countryside. Normal admission applies. WESTONBIRT ARBORETUM Tetbury, Glos, GL8 8QS 01666 880220 CHEDWORTH ROMAN VILLA Yanworth, Cheltenham, GL54 3LJ. 01242 890256. 14 – 16 Feb. Barking Up The Right Tree bark through a range of crafty fun and roman-villa challenges! Take the tree bark ID challenge and join in 11 – 19 Feb. Roman Romance Week with a wide range of crafts. 11.00am – 3.30pm. Family activities themed to Roman traditions and celebrations of the month. On certain days there will be costumed interpreters at the Villa. Some craft activities at an additional charge to cover the cost of materials. 10.30 – 3.30pm 14 Feb Did you know that St Valentine was a Roman? Celebrate Valentine’s day at the Roman villa and find out more about Roman traditions, including festivals of Parentalia and Lupercalia. Special craft Westonbirt: half-term fun activities every day. 10.30 – 3.30pm.

Corinium museum: hands-on activities

DYRHAM PARK THE WILSON Dyrham, near Bath, SN14 8ER (Sat Nav: SN14 8HY) Cheltenham Art Gallery & Museum, Clarence Street, 0117 937 2501. Cheltenham GL50 3JT dyrham-park 01242 237431 13 Feb. Forest School 18 Feb. Museum Explorers Learn some bushcraft, identify plants, build dens, cook Want to be an Explorer? These kids friendly events will over an open fire and create some crafty art work completely immerse your little explorer in the museum outdoors with Dyrham Park’s brand new Forest school collection. They will hunt for artifacts and explore the in the woodlands not usually open to the public. mysterious stories behind them in these hands on Whatever the weather forest school will involve a wild sessions. Appropriate for all ages but best for 5-12s. time in the outdoors! Suitable for 5-11 year olds. Drop in, no need to pre-book. 10.30am – 12.30pm Normal admission applies. 10.30 – 12.00 noon and 1.30 – 3.30pm. Cost £2.00. 14

Families Gloucestershire

FREE DAYS OUT AT-BRISTOL Anchor Road, Bristol, BS1 5DB 0845 345 1235 Until 20 March. Winter in the Greenhouse It might be cold outside but nature doesn’t stop. Until 6 March. Winter Stargazing. Immerse yourself in the wonder of astronomy as a presenter guides you around the glittering night sky. Until 20 March. Winter Kitchen. Fire up your taste buds in the kitchen this winter

Slimbridge: Puddle jumping fun SLIMBRIDGE WETLAND CENTRE Bowditch, Slimbridge, Gloucestershire GL2 7BT 01453 890 333 Until 28 Feb. Every Saturday. Decoy Dog Demonstrations. Watch our very own furry canine assisting with conservation work as birds are caught and ringed in the decoy nets. Book at the Admission desk. 2pm. 11 – 19 Feb. Puddle Jumping Championships February half-term will see WWT Slimbridge Wetland Centre play host to the South West’s Puddle Jumping Championships. This event will be fun for all ages.

THEATRE AND DRAMA THE BACON THEATRE Dean Close School, Shelburne Road, Cheltenham GL51 6HE 01242 258002 www.bacontheatre. 18- 22 Jan. Sleeping Beauty Please call the Promenade Production’s own box office for tickets and information: Showcase 01242 224144 15 Feb. Brainiac Live! Strap on your safety goggles boys and girls, due to popular demand, Science’s greatest and most volatile live show is returning with a vengeance. Based on the multi-award winning TV show. THE ROSES THEATRE Sun Street, Tewkesbury GL20 5NX 01684 295074 16 Feb. The Sorcerer’s Apprentice Charlie Hubble is a little boy with a very big dream; he wants to be a world-class magician. So, he saves up to buy The Big Book of Magic for Trainee Magicians.

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January - February 2017

Please mention you saw the event in Families Gloucestershire magazine

25 Feb. Michael Morpurgo’s King Arthur A thrilling tale of magic, heroism, love and betrayal adapted from the novel Arthur: High King of Britain

MUSEUMS AND GALLERIES THE WILSON Cheltenham Art Gallery & Museum, Clarence Street, Cheltenham GL50 3JT 01242 237431 Last Sunday of every month. Arty Sundays. Families can take part in fun and interactive art activities. FREE.


Gloucestershire Slingmeets GLOUCESTER AND CHELTENHAM SLING MEETS For times and venues please check www. STROUD SLING MEETS Parliament Street Children’s Centre, Old Bisley Rd, Stroud

Gloucestershire Breastfeeding Supporters’ Network Support Groups

All groups are free drop-in sessions. Dads, grandparents and supportive friends are welcome too. You don’t need to have a breastfeeding problem to attend Monday. 10.00 – 12.00 noon: MOBS in Dursley, Parish Room, St James the Great Church GL11 4JE Tuesday. 10.00 – 12 noon: BAPS, Hesters Way Children’s Centre, Dill Avenue,Cheltenham GL51 0ES Wednesday. 10.30 – 12.00 noon: BABES, Noah’s Ark Children’s Centre, York Road, Priors Park, Tewkesbury, GL20 5HU Thursday . 9.30am – 11.30am: CRIBS, Church Hall, St John’s Church, Churchdown GL3 2DB 10.00am – 11.30am: BEST, Springboard Children’s Centre, Trinity Road, Cirencester, GL7 1JU 10.00am – noon: MOBS in Stroud, Parliament Street Children’s Centre, Bisley Old Road, Stroud GL5 1NL 12.30pm – 2.00pm: GLOBES, Gardners Lane Children’s Centre, Cheltenham GL51 9JW. Full information:

Cheltenham Children’s Centre Baby Groups Every Monday at St. Margaret’s Hall, GL51 3NU 10.00am-11.30am (0-18 months) Every Tuesday at Rowanfield Children Centre, GL51 8HY 1.00pm-2.30pm (mums to be and prewalking babies) Every Wednesday at Gardners Lane Children Centre, GL51 9JW 10.00am -11.30am Every Thursday at Hester’s Way Children Centre, GL51 0ES 1.15pm -2.45pm Every Friday at Oakwood Children Centre, GL52 5QH 10.00am - 11.30am All groups are open to babies 0-12 months and their parents/ carers.

01452 503050 guildhall Mondays. LaLa Lounge (for parents with under 5’s) Escape the shopping frenzy for an hour or two in our comfy cinema. Meet your friends, chill and chat, treat yourself to tea, coffee or a light lunch while the little ones play. 10.30am – 12.00pm. Free entry. THE WILSON Cheltenham Art Gallery & Museum, Clarence Street, Cheltenham GL50 3JT 01242 237431 First Wednesday of every month. Tots and Tales. Join in this fun session of storytelling and art activities for parents and carers with pre-school children.10.30am - 11.15am & 1.15 - 2pm. Drop-in event. Donation of £1 per child.

STROUD BRANCH NCT Signature antenatal course For more details see or contact your local course organiser on 0208 752 2494 or NCT Early Days/Postnatal course For more details see or contact your local course organiser on 0208 752 2494 or TETBURY BRANCH Signature antenatal course For more details see or contact bookings3d@ uk

NCT Drop Ins CIRENCESTER BRANCH Bumps, Babes & Toddlers: Every Wednesday 10.00am - 11.30am at Cirencester Baptist Church, Coxwell Street Contact: BEST - Breastfeeding Support: Every Thursday, 10.00am – 11.30am at Springboard Children’s Centre, Trinity Road, Cirencester, GL7 1JU. Contact: GLOUCESTER BRANCH Gloucester Breakfast Club: Every Wednesday. 10:00am – 11:30am. Harvester Restaurant, Salmons Leap, Quedgeley,Gloucester, GL2 4NF. Open to all, members and non-members. Contact Relax, Stretch & Breathe Classes: Every Monday in term time. For more info visit www.nct. Gloucester Bumps and Babies Every Tuesday from 10.30am-12.00 noon at Salvation Army Hall, Eastgate Street, Gloucester, GL1 1QU. You don’t need to be a member to come along, it is for all non-mobile babies and their carers and our fabulous bumps too! Free parking from Triar Way. Contact: Tots on the Move at Tinies Nursery at Gloucester College on Llanthony Road, GL2 5JQ. Every Monday term time only 10.00am -11.30am no need to be a member, Parking is limited.

NCT Courses TETBURY BRANCH CHELTENHAM & NORTH COTSWOLD BRANCH First Aid Bumps and Babes: Every Wednesday 10.30am – 12.00 noon at The Snooty Fox, Market Place, Spaces are limited so please email Louisa at: Tetbury GL8 8DD January - February 2017

What’s On

NEW Kids’ Cooking Classes and Parties! Children love to cook! Join us

with your pre-schooler Children love to cook! Joinfor usfun with baking classes and crafts on your pre-schooler for fun baking Mondays, Thursdays or or classes and crafts on Mondays Fridays. Fridays. Suitable for ages 3 - 5. Suitable for ages 3 - 5. Call Fiona: 07475883019 or visit

Book Cooking Course For Little Ones To Enjoy Little ones who enjoy making delicious fun recipes at a Cookery Doodle Doo cooking course. Our children’s cooking courses are a great way to: 1. Build their confidence 2.Try new foods and flavours 3. Encourage a healthy approach to eating 4. Get creative and have fun! Our cooking teacher will guide you and your child through the process of creating a tasty recipe from scratch using great quality ingredients. It is just like cooking at home but with a friendly group and none of the mess and sticky fingerprints after! In this course the children are cooking: Handy Biscuits, Mexican Pizza, Winter Crumble, Vegetarian Spring Rolls, MadHatter Teacake, and Italian Stuffed Tomatoes. Cost includes all the ingredients, equipment and recipe to take away. Thursdays. 5 January - 9 February. Cost £45.00. Suitabale for ages 3- 5 years. For more information visit: www. or contact Fiona on 07475883019

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Families Gloucestershire

To advertise call: 01684 770566 or email:

January - February 2017

Families Gloucestershire January/February 2017 Issue 36  

Really useful information for parents 0-12 year olds in Gloucestershire.

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